Charged with failing to prevent the 1995 massacre by Serbian troops of more than 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica (eastern Bosnia) an area for which Dutch UN forces were responsible, the Netherlands has been judged to be directly responsible for only three of the fatalities.
On September 6, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands confirmed a previous appeal court judgement delivered in response to a complaint filed by the families of an electrician, as well as the brother and the father of an interpreter employed by the Dutch batallion. The three had sought protection from Dutch troops, who were unable to evacuate them because they did not have UN badges.
For NRC Handelsblad —
… the definitive verdict from the highest authority amounts to a painful outcome for the Dutch state. Because the argument which has been put forward for years, to the effect that the Netherlands could not be held responsible for actions under the UN flag, was not upheld.
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The newspaper hopes that the Netherlands —
… will take the initiative to rapidly apologise to the families of the three men and demonstrate a willingness to pay compensation. […] An apology is often interpreted as an admission of guilt, which can pave the way for demands for payment. It is for this reason that the Netherlands has never issued an overall apology for the fall of the Srebrenica enclave.
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